Newry (1790)

A short time before the Conference this year, Mr Robert. Boyd, whom Walter Griffith designates one of the holiest men he had known, died of a malignant fever. For many years he had been an honour to, and the principal financial support of the Society in Newry. He was engaged in business, possessed some pro­perty, and, having no children alive, after supplying the daily wants of himself and his wife, faithfully devoted every shilling that he made to the promotion of the cause of God, and the relief of persons in need. He was taken to his eternal reward when just past the prime of life, and in the midst of extensive usefulness. A short time previously he dreamed that he had a conversation with a son of his who had been dead several years, and who informed him, that before the end of the ensuing three weeks he also would be in the world of spirits. His friends endeavoured to divert his attention from this alarming com­munication but he said that until the expiration of the time named he should feel himself on the borders of the eternal world. In the meantime his mind was calm and exceedingly happy in God; nor did he remit his usual diligence in business, settling his temporal affairs with the composure of a man whose treasure was in heaven. Recollecting that he had to take up a bill in the course of a few days, he waited upon the man who held it, offered him payment, and when informed that it was not yet due, insisting on then paying the amount, adding that he might be dead when the proper time arrived. Soon afterwards, one night he retired to his room, without any symptoms of disease and was seized by the terrible malady, which proved fatal, a short time before the expiration of the three weeks. Then the disease, of which her devoted husband had just expired, seized Mrs Boyd, and she followed him to another and better world. They were lovely in life and in death they were not long divided.

When the congregation assembled, on the evening after Mr.Boyd’s death, and began to sing, they became so deeply affected as to be unable to proceed. At that service there commenced such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as the oldest members of the society had never before witnessed. Mr Griffith preached the funeral sermons of Mr and Mrs Boyd, upon two successive Sunday evenings, to attentive and crowded audiences. With fervour and lively faith he pleaded with God for a rich baptism of His Spirit., and the prayer was answered; though, in consequence of the preacher's removal to another circuit, he was not an eye-witness of its blessed results. The congregations increased, Divine power accompanied the word preached, and a solemn awe prevailed at each service. Few 'nights passed without a prayer meeting after preaching, chiefly for the penitents, whose cries could be heard at a considerable distance from the chapel. Many of the careless and profane gathered about the house wondering what was the matter, but were not admitted, lest they should disturb those who continued with one accord in earnest prayer. Some pious persons, who were only acquainted with God's ordinary method of working, began to reflect a little on what seemed to them confusion; but having seen the blessed effects they were fully satisfied, and heartily thanked God for thus working among the children of men.

.September the 8th was a night much to be remembered; not only because of those converted, but also because of the spirit of prayer poured out so wonderfully that many went away under deep conviction. A man who loved God with all his heart said; the people left, " Such of you, as have not received the blessing now, will assuredly receive it to-morrow night; " and it was so. Messrs. M'Donald and Grace, having been out of town on this evening, on their return saw several persons just set at liberty, praising God and full of joy, and others pleading for mercy; so they went to different parts of the house, and prayed with the penitents, some of whom soon had their sorrow turned into joy. Amongst others Mr Grace found a man in deep distress, who twenty years before had turned his back on the ways of God and given himself up to drunkenness, and now while engaged in prayer, his backslidings were healed. On seeing him rejoice in the Divine favour, his wife, who had for some time walked in darkness, was informed of it. She then joined her husband, and they united in earnest prayer until the Lord restored unto her also the joys of His salvation.

Mr. M`Donald sent an account of the revival to Mr. Wesley, from whom he received the following reply: "You have great reason to praise God for His late glorious work at and near Newry, and I make no doubt but it will continue, yea, and increase, if the subjects of it continue to walk humbly and closely with God. Exhort all our brethren steadily to wait upon God in the appointed means of fasting and prayer ; the former of which has been almost universally neglected by the Methodists, both in England and Ireland; but it is a true remark of Kempis: “The more thou deniest thyself, the more thou wilt grow in grace."

As the people of Newry prayed for and expected a gracious visitation at the December quarterly meeting, they were not disappointed. Amongst others, one who had been in Society for more than thirty years was enabled to rejoice in God his Saviour. A short time before the Lord visited him in mercy, one of the leaders said it was impressed on his mind that if they would all pray for that brother, the Lord would grant their request. They then united in earnest supplications until prayer was turned into praise. The watch-night was also a blessed season. During these two services twenty souls at least were converted. Within about six months, the numbers in the Newry Society were more than trebled. For a time the Divine Spirit, " like mighty winds or torrents fierce," defied all opposition; the most profligate persons, who came to the chapel, literally fell down, and owned that God was with His people ; and in the same religious assembly, Methodists and Episcopalians, Presbyterians and even Homan Catholics, joyfully proclaimed the great things which God had done for their souls. Very little, if any wildness ap­peared in this gracious work, which soon spread to several parts of the surrounding country.

'History of Methodism in Ireland' Volume II, by Crookshank, p26-9

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